DEBORAH BONHAM – Spirit : The Complete Sessions Remastered (2017)
Originally released in 2013, DEBORAH BONHAM latest album Sprit has now been fully remastered and features extra tracks and refreshed artwork, re-released under the title “Spirit : The Complete Sessions Remastered“.
DEBORAH BONHAM is not only the sister of John Bonham (the late drummer for Led Zeppelin) she’s also an accomplished blues based classic rock singer / songwriter, while her long serving band is made up of Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant players, and Robert even guests on a track here.
Being part of the Bonham dynasty is both a blessing and a curse for Deborah Bonham. Stripped of her family tree, she would still make waves in her own right, with her arresting voice and an ear for good melodies.
With more than thirty years in the musical business and having toured and performed with the likes of Bad Company, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Rodgers and many more, “Spirit” is Debbie’s fourth solo release to date.
Produced by former Debbie Harry / Lighthouse Family cohort Glenn Skinner and mixed in Nashville by former Mavericks/John Prine and Patty Griffin engineer Mike Poole, “Spirit” emphasizes on harmonies and melodies.
The result is as refreshing as it is surprising. “Spirit” is a strongly classic rock based recording, a song driven album with at least 3 potential singles and a dozen tracks full of rich harmonies, smooth melodies and plenty of catchy hooks.
The album opens confidently with the exhilarating “Fly”, which features great phrasing, soaring harmonies, a puzzling violin line and a big Zeppelin wall of sound. A cover of Sparklehorse’s late’ 90s single “Pain Birds” shifts gears a bit with its striking movement meshed against well placed vocal harmonies, painted against a grand slam chorus.
The relationship song “Feel So Alive” has a potent stop-time hook and a mighty slide break, while the acoustic-to-electric “Spirit In Me’” levers Deborah into some angelic harmonies on another beautifully crafted song full of fine harmony vocals.
“Killing Fields” is a smoothly produced slice of Westcoast soft rock with a stressed drum sound and a very catchy hook, while “Take Me Down” is equally good, and a radio friendly slice of American rooted rock.
Deborah digs deep on the slow-building, soulful ballad “I Need Love” and revels on the booming chorus of “Stop Now”, whilst the tougher “What It Feels” showcases a sharp, blues-harp honk from Robert Plant.
“I Won’t Let You Down” is full of jangling guitars, mandolin and harmonies and is another potential single with Classic Rock Radio pretensions, then “Good Times” is a sultry blues groove driven gem with sumptuous tones. Strangely, it’s buried deep in the tail-end of the album, and deserves a higher place in the sequencing because it’s a highlight on the CD.
This expanded reissue of the abum includes the songs tracked during the same sessions. It makes you wonder why the upbeat “Lightning Ray” was omitted from the original release.
Then we have a midtempo slow tune in “Bring Out The Joy” showcasing Bonham’s vocal color, while “My Life” is somewhat introspective.
“Spirit” certainly lives up to its title. The vibrant material, passionate vocals, sun kissed harmonies and smooth playing is stamped through with quality and an optimistic ambition. Regardless of her lineage, Deborah Bonham deserves a lot of credit for being a musical mastermind on her own right.
“Spirit : The Complete Sessions Remastered” is a definitive version of this album if you haven’t already invested. A strong musical production from start to finish, and while we are talking about classic rock here the music and arrangements are highly original and extremely melodic. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair and signature groove.
01 – Fly
02 – Painbirds
03 – Feel So Alive
04 – Spirit In Me
05 – Killing Fields
06 – Take Me Down
07 – Bring Out The Joy
08 – What It Feels
09 – Stop Now
10 – I Won’t Let You Down
11 – I Need Love
12 – Lightning Ray
13 – Good Times
14 – Lay Me Down
15 – This Is My Life
Deborah Bonham – Vocals
Peter Bullick – Guitars
Ian ‘E’ Rowley – Bass
Gerard ‘G’ Louis – Keyboards
Jason Bonham, Rich Newman, Jerry Shirley – Drums
Robert Plant – Harp
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